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Nigerian Football

SEYI AKINWUNMI U13 TOURNEY SETS LAGOS AGLOW

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For lovers of youth football development, it was a fascinating two –day feast at the Campos Mini-Stadium in Lagos as the Seyi Akinwunmi U13 Football Tournament lit up the Lagos Island and environs at the weekend.

Akinwunmi, who is the 1st Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation and Chairman of its Youth Development Committee, is a man known globally for his passion for the youth.

His Foundation (the Seyi Akinwunmi Charity Foundation) also organizes an annual year –ending mini-tournament at the same venue.

On why the U13 Tournament was conceived and delivered, the debonair lawyer who is also Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association told thenff.com: “The Mini-Tournament that we stage every December is actually meant for the young ones, but adults have gradually started taking over the show and I just decided that we should have a separate program for the children.

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“This is my passion; this is my love. It is not about hugging the limelight; it is simply about unearthing talents and giving them a sense of belonging.

“There are little children who can play the game and are just waiting to be discovered.

“Our focus is on the intelligent but indigent children, and we want to prove that those who play football can also go to school. It is about education and football rolled into one.”

Invited for the two –day event were LGEA Central School, Kwara State; Emmanuel Anglican Nursery and Primary School, Ekiti State; Baptist Government Secondary School, Osun State; X-Planter Primary School, Lagos State; Abogo Largemo Military Cantonment Primary School, Borno State and; Eko Football Future Stars.

The tournament was won by the boys from Ekiti, after an enthralling final match against LGEA boys from Kwara State that went to penalty shoot –out after a 2-2 draw and had everyone rooting for more.

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The Baptist boys from Osun State won the third place match after spanking X-Planter boys from Ikorodu 3-1 on the final day. In an exhibition match, the boys from Borno State pipped Eko Future Stars 1-0 – a shock result given that the Future Stars had defeated their opponents 4-1 in another match 24 hours earlier.

Among dignitaries who attended the finale on Sunday were President of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, who opted to sponsor three of the children in the victorious squad through his Brownhill Foundation, while also giving the sum of N200,000 to the boys from Borno State; Akinwunmi and his wife Jumoke; NFF Board Members Babagana Kalli and Aisha Falode; NFF Congress members Taiwo Ogunjobi, James Odeniran, Ganiyu Majekodunmi and Tade Azeez; Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission Kweku Tandoh; DG, Lagos State Sports Commission Babatunde Bank-Anthony; Lagos FA members Dotun Coker, Mojeed Adegbindin, Wale Joseph and Liameed Gafaar; senior special assistants to Governor Ambode, Bolaji Yusuf and Adeyinka Adeboye; former Nigeria captains Mutiu Adepoju and Friday Ekpo; Channels TV’s Steve Judo and; leading lights of the Sports Editors Forum.

 

At the end, a cheque for the sum of N500,000 was handed over to the boys from Borno State, while Jeremiah Adekanbi (Baptist Boys, Osun); Akeem Bashiru (Emmanuel Anglican Nursery and Primary School, Ekiti); Mahmood Muyideen (LGEA Central School, Kwara) and; Israel Oke (X-Planter Primary School, Ikorodu) were handed a cheque of the sum of N150,000 each in scholarship.

Dignitaries, including Pinnick, Akinwunmi, Babagana, Tandoh, Azeez and Bank-Olemoh line up with the boys from Kwara State before the final match.

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Akinwunmi is hoping that some other States of the Federation can start a similar program that will give hope to intelligent but indigent children waiting to be discovered and at the same time offered an opportunity to combine education with their passion.

“If we have about 10 States doing something like this, we would never have to worry about getting players for the age –grade National Teams. All we would require is getting the right technical crew to teach them the basics and nurture them to become the stars of the future of our game.”

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Finidi deserves our support, says former international, Kingsley Onye

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NFF Confirms Finidi George

Ahead of the first press parley that Super Eagles’ new manager, Finidi George is going to have on Thursday in Lagos, former Nigeria international, Kingsley Onye has canvassed for full support for the new coach.

 To him, the time of politicking and pushing for a particular candidate was over. “It is time for all of us to back the chosen one, Finidi George”, remarked Onye who was a left rearguard player in the 1985 class of Flying Eagles who against all odds, upstaged hosts,Soviet Union to clinch the third place in the then World Youth Championships that is now called the U-20 World Cup.

  “Although I canvassed for Emmanuel Amuneke’s candidature, am still happy that an equally good Finidi George got the job”, he said in a phone conversation from his base in the United Kingdom.

  “The fact that some players complained after Nigeria’s second friendly match in March shows that Finidi is a man of his class and cannot be influenced by players’ sentiments.

  “I believe he will take Nigeria to an enviable height, the same way Amuneke too would have done.”

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 Continuing, Onye who played for Enugu Rangers while he was in the country in the 1980s also remarked that he was on the same page with Victor Ikpeba who has asked that Finidi’s assistants should always back him in team selection  and tactical formations.

 “We should be more than 100 per cent behind the coach. If we do, he will perform wonders. He has his own philosophy which we must allow to flourish. He did it will Enyimba, leading the club to success last season and was at the brink of repeating the success before his appointment as Super Eagles’ coach.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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